How did immigration change the U.S. between 1820 and 1860?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Immigration changed the United States between 1820 and 1860 in many ways. During this time period many immigrants came to the United States from north and west Europe.  Some people called this the first wave of immigration.  As a result of this immigration, cities began to grow.  Many immigrants settled in the cities which eventually led to the development of ethnic neighborhoods. Also, because so many people came to the cities, industries grew. There was a large availability of workers, usually very low paid, which enabled factories to grow and develop. This began to change the nature of the workplace. Instead of working at home or in very small environments, people were in workplaces of hundreds or thousands of workers. The workplace became much less friendly and personal to the workers. Some immigrants who came made significant contributions to the United States. Some inventions were made by people who came to the United States in this first wave of immigration. As immigration grew, more problems developed in the cities. City governments couldn't keep up with the increasing population which led to disease, lack of good housing, pollution, and crime. Because the city governments weren't able to deal with the increasing needs of the people, political machines formed to help those in need. Of course, this was done in return for votes. This led to a lot of corruption in city politics. Finally, anti-immigrant feelings began to grow as the number of immigrants increased. People wanted laws to restrict immigration, and groups formed to work for this. Immigration had many effects on the United States. Some were positive and some weren't as good.

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